About Me

Note from Maria: I am a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Public Health Degree in Nutrition from UNC at Chapel Hill. I have a passion for helping people with nutrition & wellness, especially moms. Women & moms provide care for everyone else often at the expense of considering their own needs. I hope to provide good resources to you to help you make nutrition and wellness a priority.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sugar vs. Artificial Sweeteners

Generally I am not a huge fan of artificial sweeteners. This is more of my opinion, but I believe that routinely eating sweets, real or artificial, makes it hard to break those sweet cravings. Studies do show that people who switch to artificial sweeteners often gain weight instead of losing, the reason is unclear. One possible explanation is that consuming artificial sweeteners increases cravings and therefore increases calories consumed, but more research is needed to help us understand this. Here is more info if you are curious: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=artificial-sweetener-linked-weight-gain

One teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories (4 grams of sugar). If you drink one or two cups of coffee with one teaspoon of sugar in each, the calories consumed from this is minimal. However, in comparison, one 20 oz Coke has 65 grams of sugar which would be approximately 260 calories from sugar. That is about 16 teaspoons in one serving - this is a ridiculous amount of sugar! (Measure it out of you are curious to see how much this really is.)

Try to avoid added sugar as much as possible. The American Heart Association recommends a TOTAL of 6 tsp of added sugar a day for women and 9 tsp per day for men. Less is better. Here is more info if you would like to read it: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugars-and-Carbohydrates_UCM_303296_Article.jsp

My thoughts:
  • A little sugar in coffee each day is probably not worth worrying about.
  • Use half the amount of sugar that is called for in recipes.
  • Read labels, you might be surprised to see the foods that contain sugar. 
  • If you are diabetic, using artificial sweeteners such as Splenda or stevia can be helpful in controlling your blood sugar, but remember everything in moderation! Sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol do contain some carbohydrate will raise your blood sugar levels, but probably less than regular sugar (sucrose), so check your sugar after consuming to get an idea of how they affect you. 
  • Splenda and stevia are probably the safest artificial sweeteners. However, we don't really have good data of the effects for long term use, especially if you are consuming a lot of it. Here is a link with more info about artificial sweeteners: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/artificial-sweeteners/MY00073
  • If you want something sweet, try eating a piece of fruit! 

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